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Title: Teknolust  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: !Women Art Revolution, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize, James Urbaniak, Lisa Fruchtman, Sumalee Montano
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson
Produced by Lynn Hershman Leeson
Written by Lynn Hershman Leeson
Starring Tilda Swinton
Jeremy Davies
James Urbaniak
Karen Black
Al Nazemian
Josh Kornbluth
Thomas Jay Ryan
Music by Klaus Badelt
Ramin Djawadi
Mark Tschanz
Edited by Michelle Born
Lisa Fruchtman
Claudia Tronnier
Distributed by Velocity Entertainment
Release dates
  • January 2002 (2002-01)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $28,811[1]

Teknolust is a 2002 film produced, written, and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson who, at the time of production, was working in the art department at University of California, Davis. It stars Tilda Swinton and Jeremy Davies.


  • Cast 1
  • Synopsis 2
  • Plot Summary 3
  • Awards and Nominations 4
  • Social Critique 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Role Actor Notes
Rosetta Stone/Marinne/Olive/Ruby Tilda Swinton
Sandy Jeremy Davies
Agent Hopper James Urbaniak
Professor Crick John O'Keefe
Dirty Dick Karen Black
Dr. Bea Al Nazemian
Dr. Aye S.U. Violet
Tim Josh Kornbluth
Preacher Thomas Jay Ryan
Nelia Sumalee Montano Uncredited Role


The film is about the scientist Rosetta Stone (Swinton) who injects her clones must habitually venture into the real world in order to obtain a supply of Y chromosome in the form of semen to keep them alive. Unfortunately, their periodic treks into the outside world seem to leave the males they obtain the chromosome from, with a strange virus that overtakes both their bodies and their computers. Unfortunately the lust carries over into the technology leaving the males' world aghast.

Plot Summary

Anxious to use artificial life to improve the world, Rosetta Stone, a bio-geneticist creates a Recipe for Cyborgs and uses her own DNA in order to breed three Self Replicating Automatons (SRA), part human, part computer named Ruby, Olive and Marine. The SRA's act as 'portals' on the Internet, helping users to fulfill their dreams. The SRA's are nourished through touch. Because they were bred only with Rosetta's DNA, they need the balance of an Y chromo or male sperm to survive. Ruby goes out to meet men in order to obtain their sperm to keep her and her sisters alive. Rosetta projects seduction scenes from movie clips onto Ruby, which absorbs as she sleeps. Ruby acts out these scenes in real life with the men, as she attempts to acquire their sperm. She shares her spoils with her sisters afterwards. Ruby's male encounters suffer from impotence and unexplained rashes after they meet which creates panic. Fearing a bio-gender war, the FBI sends in Agent Edward Hopper to solve the mystery. Puzzled, he turns for help from a private cyber detective. The men eventually recover, as their sickness is someone linked to a computer virus obtained from Ruby. Ruby falls develops feeling for a print shop worker named Sandy. The characters struggle to find love in a world that no longer needs sex to reproduce, a world that is changing and is populated with people who use provisional identities and are seen through virtual selves and a world where love is the only thing that makes things real.[2]

Awards and Nominations

Fantasporto 2004 Nominated: Best Film - International Fantasy Film Award - Lynn Hershman-Leeson [3]

Hamptons International Film Festival 2002 Won: Feature Film Prize in Science and Technology - Lynn Hershman-Leeson [4]

Social Critique

Sex, Gender and Reproduction

"Rosetta Stone’s clone Ruby needs to be sexually active in order for her and her “sister” clones to survive, raising many questions about both gender and reproduction. Because Ruby is a clone who has only recently entered the world and thus has experienced limited human interaction, Ruby learns how women and men interact romantically by studying stereotpical love scenes in old Hollywood movies. Ruby memorizes the pick-up lines she hears in the movies and then uses them on men when she goes out to gather sperm. Here, Hershman Leeson seems to be employing a Butlerian view of gender as performative that combats an essentialist view of sex. Ruby does not innately know how to act like a woman, but she is able to learn how to from society because, as Butler argues, all humans learn to perform their gender. Therefore, to convincingly act like a human, Ruby must accept the gender binary. Ruby thus blurs the boundary between humans and machines, while she simultaneously reinforces the gender boundary between men and women. As Balsamo points out, “it appears that even though the body has been recoded within discourses of technology and medicine as belonging to an order of culture rather than nature, gender remains a naturalized marker of human identity,” and in this case, clone identity.

Furthermore, when Ruby has sex with men she simultaneously renders the men impotent (a subject that their doctors can only talk about in whispers) and crashes their hard drives, thus demonstrating a clear link between perceived masculinity and technology. As the men lose their ability to use computers, they also lose their ability to perform sexually. Ruby, the computer/human hybrid with the power to clone herself, replaces both the male's role in reproduction and his stereoytypical role of being better than women at using computer technology. Though the virus finally disappears, this plot twist transforms the fear of female promiscuity and intellectual domination and combines it with the fear of the non-human entity. For this reason, and for its emphasis on female characters, the film is considered to be a feminist work by many. At the same time, Teknolust may reinforce some problematic stereotypes. For example, when Rosetta Stone kisses Crick in the kitchen Marianne exclaims “she does not need us anymore!” This comment seems to imply that women need either children (for Stone in the shape of clones) or a man for fulfillment. However, Hershman Leeson's reflects that "all the characters in Teknolust thrive on affection, and ultimately, reproduction." Thus, she appears to be endorsing not traditional romantic relationships as such, but rather any relationship which provides love and meaning for the individual.

Reproduction is also key to the film, with all the central characters reproducing in different ways: through sexual reproduction, technological reproduction, and cloning. By introducing various “non-traditional” methods of reproduction, Hershman Leeson directly manipulates fears of human degeneration. In 2002, anxiety surrounding human reproduction included issues raised by the imminent completion of the Human Genome Project. By highlighting new human reproductive capabilities, Teknolust raises questions such as how will sex transform when it is no longer necessary for the creation of new human beings? And, how will gender roles transform when women are no longer needed as the sole reproducers of the species? Hershman Leeson leaves her answers to these questions deliberately ambiguous. At the end of the film, Ruby's pregnancy seems to indicate that there is value in traditional means of reproduction, although its juxtaposition with images of Olive and Marine creating several new clones casts some doubt on this assumption. It may be that Hershman Leeson believes that the means of reproduction should be up to the individual, as long as the reproduction is accompanied by love. As for the act of sex, Rosetta Stone's sexual experience during the film's conclusion indicates that even without the end of goal of reproduction (which Rosetta had accomplished previously through cloning,) sex will remain a key element of human experience." [5]

Artificial Intelligence and Technology

The scene when Rosetta is pressured by colleagues to patent her research done on DNA and cloning raises a few questions. Who has the right to patent life? This is an important question to consider now that we are in the 21st century with an emergence of new, highly debated, (un)ethical technology available as well as, issues of human cloning and eugenics being discussed. If anyone can alter a genetic code in order to construct the "ideal" human or "upgrade" specific human characteristics, then anyone with the same technology can use it for darker intentions such as complete removals of a specific race, minorities or persons with disabilities. This raises many fears in people, forcing us to discuss these questions of artificial intelligence, eugenics and technology in the 21st century. [6]

Teknolust also raises serious questions of artificial intelligence and human coinciousness. Ruby develops feeling for another human that praises her for her human-like characteristics. Ruby develops these human characteristics through imitation as she mimics the human actions she downloads from old Hollywood films. This contributes to the idea that imitation is not simply a human phenomenon, yet behavior that is also adopted by machines bringing artificial intelligence closer to the human factor. Artificial intelligent beings having the ability to pass as a real humans, due to increased human characteristics and developed coinciousness holds many controversial issues, just as DNA cloning and eugenics does. The clones in Teknolust have human feelings to demonstrate that artificial intelligence has become highly developed, and will only continue to improve as technology advances. [7]


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External links

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